RE: consciousness based on information or computation?

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 11:36:24 -0000

The whole issue of this argument is TIME. destroy, rebuild, original, just
sits, right now, reboot... all these words contain within them an incorrect,
common-sense, definition of time. Take the Deutsch MWI view and the
argument vanishes into thin air.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wei Dai []
> Sent: 30 January 1999 23:58
> To: Jacques M Mallah
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: consciousness based on information or computation?
> On Sat, Jan 30, 1999 at 02:50:48PM -0500, Jacques M Mallah wrote:
> > I am a big proponent of Occam's razor. But in using the criterion
> > of simplicity, one must be sure not to make an explanation too simple to
> > explain the facts. In this case, the fact is that we have observations
> > and seem to be able to make decisions. I don't see how just plain
> > information could give rise to that. Can you explain to me how it
> > happens that information has such a property? Of course not, no one can
> > really explain consciousness. That's a fact.
> We have observations and memories of decision making, but observations and
> memories are all information, and therefore can be contained in a string.
> No I can't really explain consciousness. But I do know that at least
> one conscious experience exists, namely the the one I am having right now,
> and the simplest explanation I am aware of for its existance is the one I
> gave.
> > Why is that a problem? If you build a human brain, let it run a
> > little, then destroy it and rebuild one in the original state, it's the
> > same thing. Not so counterintuitive. But the CD alone is different -
> it
> > just sits there. Or it could be a book, with the pattern of memory
> states
> > just printed out on the pages. Or a sand sketch. Wet that sand and you
> > get 20 years to life in prison.
> Or under your proposal, reboot the computer running the AI infinite loop
> and get 20 years to life in prison. Maybe you should ask Intel for a
> sponsorship? :)
> > There have been such simulations, I don't know the details.
> > Without limitations on time and computing power, it shouldn't be that
> hard.
> My point is that you would have to hard-code the evolutionary mechanism,
> thus adding to the program length. If you don't have details, do you at
> least have a reference?
> > Or he could be assisted by one expert from each discipline. But
> > how could we assemble such a panel? I want to get those estimates.
> This
> > is a rare case in which it is actually possible to settle a
> philosophical
> > question quantitatively. That alone makes it important.
> Maybe we can send the question to some mailing lists and newsgroups and
> see if anyone is interested in helping settle the question.
> > I'll have to look at it now that I have L&V, but your proposal
> > seems stranger all the time to me. Now not any string can be conscious,
> > just one on an official output tape? Do you think that other types of
> > machines exist as well (perhaps all types), but don't give rise to
> > consciousness?
> Well read the chapter on algorithmic probability and get back to me. Maybe
> you'll have a different intuition about this then.
Received on Mon Feb 01 1999 - 03:41:21 PST

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